We are delighted that Ark Schools – arguably one of the best providers of teacher training in the country, is one of the growing number of Mats now working in partnership with NTA.
Ark, whose teacher training programme is significantly over subscribed, is currently in its second year of working with NTA. Their group is now made up of 34 mixed phase academies across 4 geographical hubs (London, Birmingham, Hastings and Portsmouth) and they currently have 110 ECT’s registered with the NTA programme.
Adam Thorpe, Ark’s ECT Programme lead talks about his experience of the NTA service and why it works so well for this highly respected, successful group of academies.
‘Working with NTA was attractive to us as we had big ambitions for providing an innovative and supportive ECT programme, but we needed help from NTA to ensure we were meeting statutory requirements.
Our collaboration means we have been able to use NTA’s core processes and procedures as a foundation on which to layer our own, tailored, Ark programme of support.
For example, throughout the Ark network we use a framework called the ‘Great Teacher Rubric’ to promote the use of shared language about what makes excellent teaching across all our schools. The rubric includes descriptors for what we believe makes for great teaching. This supports our ECTs in not only meeting the national Teachers’ Standards but in working to exceed them. NTA have been incredibly supportive in incorporating this tool into our ECT assessment processes.
Whilst NTA ultimately act to quality assure what we do, we have a good range of freedom to innovate.’
‘An important part of our ECT programme is to provide a consistent experience to developing teachers and to ensure they have training and support that matches the context of the school and the academy network as a whole.
For example, all our schools promote the same ‘6 pillars’:
We found that when using local authorities, the context of other schools going through the LA training was sometimes very different from what our own trainees were experiencing.
Creating a programme with NTA has allowed us to work across all four of our geographical hubs in a consistent and standardised way. We have one central point of communication through which we can funnel all our queries, and one dedicated Quality Assurance Officer (QAO) for all our schools. We’ve been able to build relationships with NTA so that they understand the distinct Ark context. Not only is this time efficient, but having a detailed understanding of our context allows Justine (our QAO) to provide particularly pertinent and useful feedback for the schools she visits.
The alternative to NTA would be to communicate and negotiate our preferred approach with multiple LAs, each of whom have their own, differing, assessment processes and procedures. Managing this process would be a far more complicated logistical challenge. For example, with NTA we can register all ECTs through the same system, train all our school leads at the same time knowing that the processes are identical for each school, and receive assessment data on all ECTs on one spreadsheet.’
‘From an organisational perspective, using NTA allows us to track and analyse the performance and assessment data across our whole cohort of ECTs. We believe that this leads to better support which results in better teachers. Fundamentally, this leads to better outcomes for our children and young people.
From the ECTs’ point of view, they feel part of a cohesive, joined up network-wide programme. It also gives them an opportunity for shared experience, which we believe results in increased morale and motivation.
NTA provide us with a great professional service, accessible data, and clear advice. We receive excellent and efficient administrative support from Helen, who has been fantastic in responding to the range of queries that having 110 ECTs generates. My job would be a whole lot harder without Helen and Justine from NTA!
I would certainly recommend the service to other academies and especially to other MATs, particularly as supporting ECTs is NTA’s sole focus.’
Working with NTA has proved to be beneficial across the Trust in many ways. One, in particular, is the opportunity to support overseas teachers who have previously trained and qualified abroad. Although we acknowledge that our overseas teachers are fully qualified, we and the teachers themselves recognised the benefits of having this additional induction period in order to fully integrate them into the English education system. This has been particularly beneficial in supporting our overseas trained teachers and ECTs due to all the curriculum and assessment changes, which all teachers have had to adjust to. An individual programme of monitoring and support, which includes sustained and relevant professional development opportunities, is fully utilised for our overseas teachers just as it is for our ECTs and this is accredited by NTA.
One of the current overseas trained teachers comments on their experience:
‘The NTA induction support programme has not only had a significant impact on my teaching practice, but has also made my transition to this country less stressful. Being trained for this profession in Canada, my studies were deeply rooted in the Ontario curriculum. Therefore, it quickly became apparent that because I was coming to work as a first year teacher, in a new country, with a brand new curriculum, I would need some additional support. I was already recognised as a qualified teacher in the UK, however the senior management team thought it would be best for me to do the ECT programme to ensure an easy transition and allow me to have additional support within the school. I was initially hesitant to take on any additional workload, but decided that, as a teacher, my own development and progression is life long and that this added support would be more beneficial.
I am so thankful that I made that decision for number of reasons. For instance, the 10% release time enabled me to continue reflective practice by observing other teachers, reflecting on my own lessons, and sorting through my work to evidence me meeting the teaching standards. Having the time to reflect on your own teaching habits and practices enables you to continuously improve, change and develop your professional skills which, ultimately, benefits your students. The part of the induction programme that I found benefitted me the most was having a mentor. I was able to share any questions, thoughts, opinions, and suggestions with this mentor during our regular meetings and received valuable support and advice.’
The support and assessment of our overseas teachers has been and will continue to be as rigorous as it is for our ECTs. We have found that investing the time, money and additional resources in supporting our overseas teachers is invaluable, as they have developed their practice into becoming outstanding practitioners who feel nurtured and supported. At the end of the induction period, our overseas trained teachers will gain a certificate which states they have been fully inducted into the English system. In the current climate of teacher shortages, as a Trust we strongly believe that investing in all of our teachers’ development is paramount and working with NTA as our accreditor has enabled us to tailor our training to not only benefit the teachers but ultimately benefit all the children in our Trust.